Dec 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Video: Key takeaways from our investigation on a suspected Chinese spy

How did a Chinese student active in San Francisco Bay Area politics from 2011 to 2015 become the target of a U.S. counterintelligence investigation? And why did her efforts to connect with local politicians who would later play a role on the national stage raise investigators' alarms?

In this clip from "Axios on HBO," Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian and Zach Dorfman of the Aspen Institute explain.

Key takeaways:

  1. A suspected Chinese intelligence operative named Christine Fang developed extensive ties with local and national politicians, including a U.S. congressman, in what U.S. officials believe was a political intelligence operation run by China’s main civilian spy agency between 2011 and 2015.
  2. The alleged operation offers a rare window into how Beijing has tried to gain access to and influence U.S. political circles.
  3. How it worked: Through campaign fundraising, extensive networking, personal charisma, and romantic or sexual relationships with at least two Midwestern mayors, Fang was able to gain proximity to political power, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials and one former elected official.

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